Today proved yet another beautiful contrast as we left the luxuries of our Vegas suite for the rustic glamour of The Grand Canyon.
And to think we were cold in LA where it was in the 60s and 70s is now comical as we adjust to temperatures in the 30s and 40s – with patches of snow on the ground!
It took us about 5 hours (but we lost an hour as the timezone jumped ahead) to get from Vegas to The Grand Canyon’s South Rim entrance – it’s either this entrance or the North Rim, which is closed for the winter as of October 15. The South Rim and North Rim are more than 200 miles apart in driving distance, and the more populated of the two is The South Rim.
The drive was foreshadowing as we drove through rigid valleys contrasted by a perfectly blue sky. It was an easy drive, and while reception got spotty in a few places, the signs directing you to the Grand Canyon are impossible to miss.
I was surprised at how populated and “built up” this national park is. There are gates that you first pass through to enter, with a $30 entrance fee that is waived for active duty military. Then it was as easy as following the road up to a giant parking lot where one of many visitor centers sit, walking no more than a quarter of a mile to the Mather Point lookout and beginner path, Rim Trail. It was a popular view shared with other tourists. Granted, there are numerous ways to deeper embed yourself in this natural wonder, such as advanced hikes and overnight camping, but we could only take the cold for 30 minutes as the sun began to set.
It was the perfect place to pause and idolize this stunning masterpiece by mother nature. You can’t help but feel humbled by a view like this.
There were BBQs, Mexican eateries and steakhouses on the outskirts of the park, but we were so cold and ready to hit the road that nothing sounded better than the Wendy’s drive-thru (which was, of course, regretful immediately thereafter).
Then it was off for two more hours before settling in for the night at Flagstaff, a mountain “college town” in the middle of Arizona set at 7,000 feet above sea level, where some of the country’s best star-gazing can be found. Known as the gateway to The Grand Canyon for travelers coming from the East, this stop serves as the gateway to New Mexico for us, as we prepare to hit the road for Albuquerque next!